What is the Endocannabinoid System?

What is the Endocannabinoid System?
Dr. Jen Palmer, ND

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jen Palmer, ND -  Naturopathic Doctor

Healthy relationships play an influential role in the quality of our everyday existence. From our family bonds, the environments in which we live, the food we eat, how we physically feel, to how we see ourselves. Certain connections are critical for balance.

That’s also true for our body, which has a life-essential regulatory system based on biochemical relationships that help us to maintain equilibrium, despite life’s ups and downs. It’s called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

Hemp has a unique and powerful lock and key relationship with the ECS. Read on to learn what the human endocannabinoid system is and how CBD interacts with it:

What is the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)?

Discovered in the 1990s, the human Endocannabinoid System is thought to be one of the most vital and vast receptor systems for sustaining good health. It affects many of our biological processes. Not just for humans, but also for all vertebrate animals, and some invertebrates too.

The system contains cannabinoid receptors, the “locks” and a group of diverse chemical compounds called cannabinoids, the “keys.” The body produces its endogenous cannabinoids, most notably anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

Endocannabinoids are found in the immune system, the central nervous system, the brain, organs, connective tissue, and glands.

So, where does hemp fit into the picture?

There’s a reason why hemp works so well with the ECS. It has a set of keys to the kingdom! Hemp contains elevated levels of Cannabidiol (CBD), an active phytocannabinoid that works synergistically with other secondary phytocannabinoids and compounds like terpenes and flavonoids.

What does the Endocannabinoid System do?

The primary objective of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis in the body. The word homeostasis comes from the Greek words for “steady.”  For our purposes, it means providing a state of internal stability necessary for survival, despite fluctuations in our external environment. The ECS is also involved in many physiological processes like appetite, sleep, digestion, mood, memory, metabolism, neuro-protection, hormones, and heart function.

How does the Endocannabinoid System work?

The Endocannabinoid System has a series of receptors on cells throughout the body designed to accept cannabinoids, like the CBD in CW hemp extract oil. There are two main types of endocannabinoid system receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2) that receive three types of cannabinoids:

  • Endocannabinoids – The cannabinoids our body makes
  • Phytocannabinoids – Natural plant cannabinoids like those found in hemp
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids – Synthetically created in a lab

CB1 is mostly found in the brain, and also the lungs, kidney, liver, bones, heart, and male and female reproductive organs. This receptor is more keyed into tetrahydrocannabinol, the main cannabinoid found in marijuana.

CB2 lives in the immune system, with a significant presence in the spleen as well as the lungs, liver, bone, and muscle.

Endocannabinoid System Diagram

The Last Piece Of The ECS Puzzle

Metabolic enzymes, FAAH and MAGL, are used by the ECS to accelerate chemical reactions and efficiently break down cannabinoids once they’ve served their purpose.

In Conclusion

Understanding your relationship with the Endocannabinoid System and homeostasis is essential for life. It’s hard to deny it holds keys to how we thrive, heal, and function for better body and mind wellness. Science continues to reveal many answers as to why our body is so responsive to hemp and whole-plant cannabinoids.

To learn more about how CBD interacts with the body read our blog on “The 7 Uses and Benefits of CBD Oil” or “CBD Oil vs Hemp Seed Oil vs Marijuana.”